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India closely monitoring situation, launches helpline for detained Indian students in US

ANI | Updated: Feb 02, 2019 15:22 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb 2 (ANI): The Indian government is closely monitoring the situation and Indian consulates in the United States are in touch with the authorities following the detention of scores of Indian students, many from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, for flouting immigration rules. 
The Indian Embassy in Washington has also launched a 24X7 helpline for the affected students who were arrested on Wednesday in raids across the States. The students had allegedly enrolled in a fraudulent university in order to take advantage of the US government's pay-to-stay scheme.
The helpline numbers are 1-202-322-1190 and +1-202-340-2590 and
The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that it had accorded the highest priority to the situation.
The Indian government also issued a demarche to the US embassy in New Delhi to voice concern over the dignity and well-being of the detained students and to demand immediate consular access to them.
"A demarche was made to the Embassy of the United States in New Delhi by the Ministry of External Affairs. Our concern over the dignity and well-being of the detained students and the need for immediate consular access for Indian officials to the detainees was reiterated."
"We underlined that students, who may have been duped into enrolling in the ‘University’ should be treated differently from those recruiters who have duped them. We have urged the U.S. side to share full details and regular updates of the students with the Government, to release them from detention at the earliest and not to resort to deportation against their will," the Ministry said in a press statement released on Saturday.
In a nationwide crackdown on Wednesday, US authorities arrested scores of Indian students, mainly from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, who were illegally staying in the country. A US federal court charged eight Indian student recruiters- six from Detroit and one each from Florida and Virginia. The Department of Homeland Security, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have also issued warrants for the arrest of 600 persons.
"Our Mission and Consulates have visited several detention centres throughout the U.S. to extend consular assistance to detained students. So far, about 30 Indian students have been contacted by our consular officers. Efforts to contact the remaining Indian students are continuing," the statement read.
"Our Mission and Consulates have been in touch with the representatives of the Indian community and their associations to gather more information about detainees," the Ministry further added.
The Ministry also noted that the detained students who want to seek legal support have been channelised assistance by the Indian community in the US.
Meanwhile, the American Telugu Association, in a Facebook post, said that in order to reach out to the students, the Indian Consulates in Washington DC and Atlanta have requested the ATA to reach out to the affected students or their friends or relatives, who can give details about students who had enrolled in the fake Farmington University.
The conspiracy came to light after the Department of Homeland Security set up a fake university in Farmington Hills to target foreign students who wanted to stay in the U.S. without proper authorisation, according to federal indictments unsealed in Detroit.
The students enrolled at the fake university with the intent to obtain jobs under a student visa program called CPT (Curricular Practical Training) that allows students to work in the U.S., said prosecutors.
India is closely monitoring the situation and has expressed to the US government “the need to address the situation at the earliest.” (ANI)